Warrior Kings - PC - Preview
Young Artos has gone from the child of the lord of the House of Cravant to an outcast, working to restore his name, and power to wreak vengeance on those responsible for his predicament. But it is a harsh land, filled with unsavory characters, and the path home is long.
Warrior Kings, from Black Cactus and Microids, is a real-time strategy game with a few RPG elements, a solid storyline and excellent graphics. It should be mentioned that the preview version of the game did not support all the features that will be in place in the final release.
Warrior Kings takes place on a landmass (Orbis) that bears some semblance to Europe. It is a medieval fantasy game that melds history with fantasy to produce a land rife with challenge.
For example, after Artos flees his homeland and arrives on the island of Angland, his purpose is to establish a new stronghold and rebuild the fortunes of the House Cravant. The section of the land where he finds himself is Jarlsford, and it is overrun with bandit barons and barbarian chiefs, each at odds with the others. Baron Ragnar is the biggest and baddest of them all. Artos, and his retainers, find an abandoned manor, which will become their base. Not far away are villages beset by clansmen.
Artos and his men ride into the fray, save the village and are rewarded with their loyalty. The villagers are put to work gathering resources - a key element of most RTS/civ games. It takes gold to pay the army, and food to feed them. The peasants will gather wood, mine and tend farms. Carts will transfer the harvest to the appropriate storage complexes. The bad guys will attack the supply route and force its defense.
After a few minor skirmishes, Artos comes across a village where the chieftain's son has been taken by barbarians, who are channeling their powers through him to open a portal to hell, unleashing demons. The key is to rescue the chief's son (which isn't easy) in order to close the portal.
Players will be tasked to manage resources, and learn the major elements of battle. This is a game that really requires strategy and knowledge of units. Great emphasis, in the tutorial, is placed on knowing which units do well against which other type of units. Almost a rock-paper-scissors philosophy, but still highly appropriate. You can't expect a column of archers to do well against the charge of fast, light cavalry.
The key to success in Angland is to defeat Ragnar, either through diplomacy or combat. Once that is accomplished, players will be able to forge the alliance that may help overthrow to iron-fisted, and highly misguided mystic cleric-led armies that are ruling the world.
As mentioned, military strategy is a key element to this game. Control of land features also plays a big part. Siege warfare comes into play with machines such as the trebuchet, and you can develop scouts, and spies.
Warrior Kings features two modes of play, the single player campaign (which will feature three game paths) and the campaign (which will allow up to eight players).
The game graphics are three-dimensional, with camera flexibility. The animation is fairly good, but if you get too close to some of the environmental elements, they have a tendency to look like huge pixel blobs - especially the hills, which look fine from a distance. The sound is precisely what one would expect from a game in this genre.
Though no manual accompanied the preview disk, this game was easy to navigate through. The player interface is well designed, and for those who have had any kind of experience with this genre, you should be able to jump right in and play.
The campaign will feature 22 levels (each progressively harder) with more than 80 quests.
If there is one element of this game that is especially worth note, it is the size of the mapboards. This game is huge in terms of landmass. Some of the cities, even Artos' home of Cravant (which seems relatively small when compared to some others) are incredible in the size, use and style of buildings, and have all the accoutrements of a medieval fiefdom. Just panning and zooming around a city is a wonderful experience.
In many ways Warrior Kings is much like other RTS games, but with the size of the mapboard, the levels and quests, and the nice twist (in Artos' case) of an exile proving himself in another land before returning home for vengeance, this program will distinguish itself from the pack.